British scientists close to creating universal flu vaccine

7 February 2011

Healthcare research scientists in the UK believe they have engineered a flu vaccine that could be used to tackle every strain of the virus.

According to the Oxford University researchers, they have successfully tested the vaccine and hope that their innovative approach will bring an end to continuous treatment reformulation as the flu virus evolves.

Unlike traditional influenza vaccines, the new formulation targets a specific protein found inside every flu virus, as opposed to proteins contained within the external coat of the common pathogen.

Dr Sarah Gilbert at Oxford's Jenner Institute claimed that widespread use of the new vaccine could potentially prevent outbreaks and pandemics and reduce the need for seasonal flu jabs to be administered to large swathes of the global population.

"If we were using the same vaccine year in, year out, it would be more like vaccinating against other diseases like tetanus," Dr Gilbert claimed.

She added: "It would become a routine vaccination that would be manufactured and used all the time at a steady level. We wouldn't have these sudden demands or shortages - all that would stop."

Recently, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published health research which showed that same-sex flu transmission is much more common than mixed-sex transmission.

1 Gilbert, Dr Sarah et al. "A New Influenza Vaccine for Heterosubtypic Immunity". The Jenner Institute. 2008.

2 "Boys will infect boys, swine flu study shows". Imperial College London. Monday, January 31st 2011.

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